“I’m fired up and ready to hit the ground running,” said Roach, contacted at a coaching clinic in Mission Valley. “I think the future is bright. We have a good crop of seniors coming up. I’m excited to work with Kenny Hayden, our quarterback. I just met with him today on campus. He’s excited, too.”
Under Roach, La Jolla’s offense set school and CIF San Diego Section records. In 2014, Viking quarterback Collin Rugg set a CIF record for touchdowns with 47. Rugg’s favorite targets in the spread, no-huddle offense were receivers Carlton O’Neal and Brandon Bonham.
Initial reaction to Roach’s hire from Viking players was positive. Buster Hoy, a 5-foot-9-inch, 150-pound junior, absolutely gushed over the announcement.
“I’m stoked because I thought he should have been the head coach last year,” said Hoy, who plans to be a running back in Roach’s new offense. “He knows a good offense. He’s been around football. Everyone loves him.”
As for what Roach did for him personally, Hoy said, “He coached me as a running back. When I was a sophomore, he got me in on the varsity, while I was also playing on the junior varsity. He put me in the game (to my surprise).”
The future senior summed up, “He’s happy, enthusiastic about winning. He’s not like, ‘You have to do this, etc.’ He’s like, ‘Let’s go win.’”
Commented Dr. Chuck Podhorsky, in his fourth year as principal at La Jolla High, “We’re happy to have a coach like Tyler Roach. We’re happy to have the program up and running. We’re sad to see Matt Morrison go. He was great, but we’re very happy to have Tyler. He had a lot of community support coming in.”
Morrison, who coached one year at La Jolla High, accepted the head football coaching position at Francis Parker School, his alma mater, and a full-time teaching position, according to Conway. Morrison, who played under his father, John, as head coach, helped lead the Lancers to a CIF title and was named All-CIF at quarterback.
Reaction from other Viking football players to Roach’s selection was similarly positive, though the graduating seniors won’t be able to play under the new coach.
Said senior Ross Martin, who played for Roach as a junior, “I love coach Roach. He will tighten up the offense and bump up the work ethic. We’ve been good on defense the last couple of years, but he’ll also bring an emphasis to the offensive side.”
Rugg, having transferred back locally after spending one year at college in Missouri, responded, “Coach Roach is one of the best coaches I have ever had. He has taught me so much about football and many life lessons. La Jolla High School really lucked out. He demands excellence from the team and will put all his time and effort into the players. La Jolla High football has a promising future.”
Roach, in the interim year since leaving La Jolla’s program as offensive coordinator, served as defensive coordinator at La Jolla Country Day School.
His previous coaching resume includes one year at Scripps Ranch High School as defensive coordinator and two years at his alma mater, University City High School. Roach was an all-league center and middle linebacker, playing both ways, at UC in his junior and senior years, while serving as team captain. He was named team MVP and Academic All-CIF.
He went on to star at Azusa Pacific University as a fullback and halfback, graduating with a degree in sociology in 2009. His wife Leslie and he have an infant son, Marshall.
Tanner Watson, another Viking senior who played for Roach as a junior, said in reaction to his former coach being hired as head coach, “I think that’s great for the program because he’s a guy who’s been here and knows the program. He brings knowledge. He knows how to run an offense. He knows La Jolla and the players.”